Mercy When We Need it Most

So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – (Hebrews 4:16, NLT) 

Finally, let’s draw near to the throne of favor with confidence so that we can receive mercy and find grace when we need help. – (Hebrews 4:16, CEB) 

So, let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most. – (Hebrews 4:16, VOICE) 

 

I am continually in awe of God’s provision of mercy and grace when we need it most. The last day and a half have been a whirlwind for me. Sadly, on Wednesday night, I sustained an injury to my lower left leg at football practice and struggled to sleep that night because of the pain. His grace was with me, and He provided the strength I needed to get through a day of teaching and maneuvering around campus, be it ever so slowly, until I was able to go get an x-ray. As it turned out, my fibula had been fractured, and my excitement and anticipation for our first game, eight days from now, were dashed. Thankfully, I did not have time for a pity party, as I had a District Championship gymnastics meet that I had to be present and on for, as the head coach of a phenomenal group of girls. Not only was the pain kept under control, but my girls had an incredible meet. We were hopeful for a shot at a win but went in as the second placing team. Beyond His help, there was incredible blessing, as the ladies had the best meet of the season. We ended up with the win, and I was acutely aware of His kindness for me, as I embraced the blessing He provided in spite of the frustration of my own injury. He is good, and His grace and help are present. May we ever go boldly before the throne of grace, as He grants us His mercy and help when we are in need. 

 

Let us choose draw near, wp-1522410516881456130985.jpg

With great confidence; 

For the God of grace, 

Mercy to dispense. 

His help is ready, 

When we are in need; 

In kindness, He helps, 

As we trust, He leads. 

So, boldly choose come, 

Before His great throne; 

Ready to receive, 

For each need is known. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your mercy and grace and help when we need it most. Thank You that we can come boldly before Your throne to receive what we need. Forgive us for not seeking in our need, and teach us to trust You more. Help us to pursue You in both our struggles and our blessings, as You are present in all. Show us how to love those around us in a way that conveys Your grace, mercy, kindness and help to those who need it the most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we come before Your throne with thankful hearts, knowing that we are heard and loved beyond what our minds can conceive. Amen. 

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

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Rise and Press On

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – (Psalm 73:26, NIV)

Maybe my mind and body will become weak, but God is my Source of strength. He is mine forever. – (Psalm 73:26, ERV)

I admit how broken I am in body and spirit, but God is my strength, and He will be mine forever. – (Psalm 73:26, VOICE)

 

Learning something new can be the most exhilarating and frustrating thing on the planet. I know from experience that everything worthwhile, requires hard work. Currently, I am in a space where the learning curve is a bit overwhelming, as my mind attempts to grasp all the new and I commit my body to conform to the physical demands that are unlike anything I have ever done before. Nagging aches and strains are challenging my resolve, and my mind’s capacity to recall play after play as it is called seems to be compromised. Despite my feelings of lack, weakness and brokenness, the strength He provides within me, drives me to press on. Each day is new, and He refreshes and rebuilds us in our spaces of lack and leads us forward in His strength. May we ever seek God in our areas of weakness, trusting Him to empower us to move forward forever in His goodness and grace.

 

On days that we fail, You Make Me Strong

Feel broken and weak;

Let’s trust in the One,

Provides those who seek.

For strength from within,

Is from God alone;

Forever He gives,

And makes His heart known.

Power presented,

To rise and press on;

Strengthening of heart,

Resolve is made strong.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we feel broken and weak, You are strong and You are our Source of strength to press forward in You. Thank You that You are our portion forever. Forgive us for our frustration with our own humanity, as we fall short and fail. Teach us to turn to You to be our Source of strength in our every weakness. Show us how to love and encourage those around us when they feel broken or weak. May many rise up and come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we trust You to be our strength where we are weak and give You all praise for Your faithful provision. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

The Two Greatest Commands

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – (Matthew 22:37-40, NLT)

Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” – (Matthew 22:37-40, MSG)

 

I am routinely amazed at how overwhelmingly blessed and loved I feel, as I try to live my life according to these two commands. When we love God and love people, the rewards far outweigh the risks. God’s love is greater than any sort of love that the human heart can hold and choosing to love people is often returned far bigger and better than we could ever hope or imagine. To love others as we love ourselves, requires that we think of others before we speak or act. Will the words that I speak or the actions that I take be ones that would be a blessing to me if I were the recipient? If not, we are likely not acting in love. Though there are times when we choose love and extend kindness to others and what is returned is far from the same, if we truly choose to love as God loves us, we will extend love anyway. We are not called to stay in harm’s way nor withstand abuse, as sometimes love leads us away to safety. Regardless of the circumstances, we can choose love as we lift others up to the Lord. He is far greater than anything or anyone who comes against us, and His love covers all. May we ever seek to follow the two greatest commands that lead to a life of walking in God’s will: Let us love God and love people.

 

With all of our heart, wp-1519570589366472507998.jpg

We are called to love;

God and all people,

Our charge from above.

As we love the Lord,

And choose love others;

We find that we’re blessed,

Sisters and brothers.

In God’s family,

We find love not known;

As through each other,

His goodness is shown.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You made it simple for us to follow Your ways and walk in Your will through our own awareness and obedience to the two greatest commands: to love You with all that we are, and love people as we love ourselves. Forgive us for the times that we have not done either. Teach us to turn to You so that we may learn to love as we are loved by You. Show us how to love those around us, according to Your good and perfect will. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we love You with all that we are and choose to love others as we desire to be loved. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

He Leads Those Who Seek

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor. – (James 4:10, NLT)
Be humble before the Lord, and He will make you great. – (James 4:10, ERV)
Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet. – (James 4:10, MSG)
 
God’s economy is far different from our own. He lifts up those who recognize their desperate need for Him, and shows His strength and goodness to those who earnestly seek the Lord. A trip to Minnesota was not expected nor anticipated, yet when we discovered the need to be here and realized that with God, all things are possible, each step was paved and all that we needed has been provided. I am in awe of the beauty that surrounds us, and am excited to see what He will do in the hearts and lives of all of the extended family that is gathering to be present for my Viking’s father. May we ever humbly seek the Lord in all things, as He is the One who sets our feet on the path that He has prepared, and provides all that is needed to navigate according to His good and perfect will.
When we come to God,0126180723a_hdr1400279688.jpg
and humbly seek;
He hears all our cries,
gives strength where we’re weak.
God creates a way,
where it seems there’s none;
He shows us His love,
’til each day is done.
So let us choose pray,
in humility;
for God makes a way,
our stability.
 
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that when we humbly seek You, You meet us where we are and lift us up to do what You call us to do. Thank You that You are our strength in all things, and that You make a way where there seems to be no way. Forgive us for not getting down on our knees to present our needs. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would seek You in all things, as You are the One who will lead us and grant us strength. Show us how to love those around us well, so that they too, may come to know that You are the God who hears our every heart cry, and You answer those who earnestly seek You. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we seek You and trust You to lead and guide us as we go. Amen.
 
Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

Faithful Love

Lord, Your faithful love reaches to the sky. Your faithfulness is as high as the clouds. – (Psalm 36:5, ERV)

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. – (Psalm 36:5, NLT)

Your steadfast love, O Lord, is as great as all the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. – (Psalm 36:5, TLB)

 

It is with great joy and an overflowing heart, that I can testify of God’s great faithfulness in my own life. For far too many years, I existed in a world where “love” had conditions and the price was losing much of who I was, and hiding who I was meant to be. After making the agonizing decision to get out of that which was destroying me and detrimental to my boys, I began to learn just how faithful the Lord’s love is for me, personally. I rediscovered my passion, drive, and my voice, and began to discover the depth and breadth of His love and care, as I sought Him in all things. About a year and a half ago, I was visiting with my best friend out on her deck, when she got a text message back from an old friend in response to a mechanical question that she had asked him earlier. Polite, casual conversation, soon turned to his curiosity as to who I was, and whether or not I was single. Her response was, “Not for you.” The banter back and forth that continued that evening between the three of us led to him asking my permission to message me. I verified with my dear friend the safety of doing so, and the rest is history. Last evening, as we gathered with great friends for a Bunco night, my Viking surprised everyone with his sweet proposal, right there, as we were taking a break between rounds. My heart can hardly contain the joy and excitement for the life that we are learning to build together as we spend as much time as we are able as a to-be family of five. The Lord is faithful beyond what we could hope or imagine and we must choose to trust in the power of His perfect love.

 

The Lord’s faithfulness, img_2018-01-21_08-00-532054400719.jpg

Goes beyond what’s seen;

We must simply trust,

The time in between.

Though trust is scary,

To hold what’s unseen;

Love beyond measure,

As God intervenes.

So great is His love,

And that which He gives;

His faithful blessings,

All trust as we live.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the incredible faithfulness of Your great love, and how You hold us in Your hands. Thank You that You pick us up, dust us off, and heal the wounded places to prepare us to receive so much more than we ever would have thought possible. Forgive us for our fearfulness and lack of trust when we cannot see Your hand. Teach us to trust You more, as You are faithful forever, and have great things in store for those who follow after You. Thank You for the incredible gift of this man that You brought into my life when I had no intention to risk love again. Thank You for showing me Your heart in new ways through the love that I receive. Show us how to give love that demonstrates Your faithfulness in ways that encourage and touch hearts most. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we give You all praise for Your faithful loving ways forever. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Blooms from Burdens

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that testing of your faith produces perseverance. – (James 1:2-3, NIV)

My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you reason to be very happy. You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. – (James 1:2-3, ERV)

Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. – (James 1:2-3, VOICE)

 

As the school day had come to a close yesterday, and I was preparing to head home, I had a quick conversation with a colleague whom I greatly respect and admire, as she does some of the most difficult work on campus. It had been a particularly rough week with students, and yesterday, many of the manifestations of the worst of it, came to a head. She said something that at first, I found to be sad, but as I thought about it a bit more, I found how closely tied to the above verse it actually held true. The gist of what she had said, was that the trials that she had endured last year, had prepared her for what she faced yesterday. What might have formerly frazzled and unnerved her, did not, as she had been prepared with the trials from the previous year, and discovered that she was calm and felt equipped to tackle each challenge that was presented with patience and perseverance. The smile I am accustomed to seeing on her face was still prominent, and despite the weariness of the week, there was joy. May we all face the trials that test our faith in trust, for God uses every difficulty to grow us and for ultimate good.

 

 

Each trial we face, Chosen With Purpose

A chance to try trust;

For as we press on,

God remains with us.

The things that we learn,

Through challenges faced;

Grow patience in us,

To run well our race.

Though trials aren’t fun,

In Christ, they’ll bring good;

Our faith will blossom,

His love understood.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that though we go through trials and difficulties, You use them to grow our faith and produce perseverance within us. Forgive us for our disdain for the difficult as it comes our way, and help us to turn in trust to You for strength and stamina to rise up and persevere, knowing that You will use our every trial for ultimate good. Show us how to love others well, so that we may share Your joy, even in the midst of trials. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we thank You for the faith and patience that You grow in us through the challenges that come our way. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you.” – Exodus 33:19

Pardon Brings Peace

God blesses those who are merciful, for they are shown mercy. – (Matthew 5:7, NLT)

Happy are people who show mercy, because they will receive mercy. – (Matthew 5:7, CEB)

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being “care-full”, you find yourself cared for. – (Matthew 5:7, MSG)

 

Mercy is an incredible gift that is given to us from God. The very definition of mercy, is compassionate kindness, favor and forgiveness that is undeserved; pardon when punishment is warranted. As recipients of God’s tender mercy, we ought to be quick to extend the same to those who “offend” us. Sadly, in our broken humanity, often our first thought is retaliation or revenge. It takes an intentional act of our will to choose to seek the Lord and His help, to extend mercy to those whom we feel deserve punishment. A great example of Jesus demonstrating mercy, was to the woman who was caught in an adulterous act, and an entire squad of Pharisees were ready to stone her for her crime. Jesus, spoke to the men, and told them that whomever was without sin, should go ahead and throw the first stone. One by one, they all eventually walked away. Soon, it was just she and Jesus standing there. Rather than casting stones, as He was indeed without sin, He extended mercy and told her to “go and sin no more.” Can you imagine the impact that His act of mercy had on the woman who was likely prepared to die that day? Though public stoning is not such a concern in society today, our sins, mistakes and missteps can weigh just as heavily on our hearts. When someone extends mercy when we deserve otherwise, the impact is powerful and long lasting. May we go forth with hearts full of grace, ready to extend mercy to those who need it most.

 

Those who give mercy, Pardon Brings Peace

Are given the same;

God grants full pardon,

And removes all shame.

For He forgives us,

As we choose forgive;

So hold not a grudge,

Be free, in peace live.

Merciful are blessed,

With hearts full of joy;

True pardon is known,

And peace is employed.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You first show Your mercy to us while we are yet sinners. Thank You that You forgive, though we do not deserve forgiveness. Thank You that mercy is a choice that we can decide to extend with Your help, regardless of what we feel. Forgive us for the times that we should have been merciful and were not. Teach us to trust You more, so that we would give mercy to others, just as mercy has been given to us. Show us how to love in a way that is compassionate and kind, with favor and forgiveness, even to those who do not “deserve” it. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we show mercy to others, just as we are shown mercy by You. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; …write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

Ponder the Treasure

But Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. – (Luke 2:19, NLT)

Mary continued to think about these things, trying to understand them. – (Luke 2:19, ERV)

Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. – (Luke 2:19, CEB)

Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart. – (Luke 2:19, VOICE)

 

The chain of events leading to and surrounding the birth of Jesus, must have been more than enough to keep Mary’s mind on constant overload. Angelic visits and prophecies, miraculous pregnancies, having to travel by donkey in the desert, arriving only to be turned away at all of the possible places to stay, giving birth in a stable, having shepherds show up… Mary was now mother to the Son of God. I imagine she vacillated back and forth between bewilderment and amazement at the role that she had been called to fill. Her faithfulness and trust in God was apparent, as she said “yes” to that which she had been called to do by God. Each of these events to treasure, were likely the things that gave her courage and strength in times of uncertainty as Jesus grew. Today, as many of us participate in candlelight services, may we ponder all of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, and treasure them in our hearts, so that we too, will find courage and strength in times of uncertainty.

 

Joining to gather, Ponder the Treasure

In candlelight glow;

Sing of our Savior,

Arrival we know.

Born in a stable,

Such a humble birth;

Path for us to know,

The depth of our worth.

For God sent His Son,

To show love to all;

Let us each embrace,

Grace to which we’re called.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You show us how to stop in awe and wonder of all that took place surrounding the birth of Jesus through the example of Mary. Thank You that You did not call the equipped, but rather You equipped the called. Thank You that You used ordinary people to do the extraordinary to change the course of history forever; a young girl, a carpenter, some shepherds, an inn keeper with a bit of compassion – each with a role that led us to why we celebrate this most holy season. Forgive us for breezing through the day as if it is just another holiday. Teach us to stop and ponder the magnitude of what You have done for us, so that we will treasure it all in our hearts. Show us how to love those around us with a love that is tangible and worth treasuring. May many come into a lasting relationship with You, as they are introduced or reminded of Who You are and all that You have done through the glorious gift of Your Son. Be glorified O God, as we ponder and treasure the reason for the season. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. – James 5:13

 

 

Simeon’s Story

A man named Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He was a good man who was devoted to God. He was waiting for the time when God would come to help Israel. The Holy Spirit was with him. The Holy Spirit told him that he would not die before he saw the Messiah from the Lord. The Spirit led Simeon to the Temple. So he was there when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to do what the Jewish law said they must do. Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God: “Now, Lord, You can let me, your servant, die in peace as You said. I have seen with my own eyes how You will save Your people. Now all people can see Your plan. He is a light to show Your way to the other nations. And He will bring honor to Your people Israel.” Jesus’ father and mother were amazed at what Simeon said about Him. – (Luke 2:25-33, ERV)

 

There are so many side stories interwoven within the story of the birth of Jesus. Simeon was a man whom had devoted his whole life to God, and was holding both the hope and the promise that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes. I imagine him to have been an older man, wise in his many years, overwhelmed with both joy and awe to behold this baby, as he recognized exactly Whom he was holding in his very own arms. Additionally, I picture Mary and Joseph, who had been visited by angels multiple times over the previous many months, full of wonder as they are now receiving further insight to the role their son will grow to fulfill. Despite the promised pain, Mary and Joseph took their parental roles seriously, and loved and lead their son, the very Son of God, according to what had been asked of them. May we pause and ponder the intricacies of God’s story, as we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth. May the magnitude of the sacrifice made on our behalf, resonate in a fresh way as we celebrate this most holy season.

 

Told in a promise, simeons-story.jpg

His own eyes would see;

Coming Messiah,

The Holy baby.

On the chosen day,

When Jesus arrived;

Simeon beheld,

Promise realized.

Imagine the joy,

Awe and wonder too;

This promise fulfilled,

His hope proving true.

May we too behold,

The wonder and awe;

At our Savior’s birth,

That Simeon saw.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that we have the privilege of knowing some of the side stories that occurred around the birth of Jesus. Thank You for showing us the hearts that had long held the hope of seeing the Messiah, and actually saw Him with their own eyes. Thank You that though we did not witness His birth, we have the blessing of Your Holy Spirit with us, always. Forgive us for not taking time to ponder the magnitude of what began in the manger. Teach us to seek You for wisdom and insight, and reveal more and more to us as we study Your word. Show us how to love those around us so that we can make Your love tangible to all. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we celebrate the wonder of Christmas, and all that unfolded surrounding Jesus’ birth. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

When times are good, be happy. – Ecclesiastes 7:14

Recognizing and Responding to Good

Mary responded, “Oh how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me.” – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, NLT)

Then Mary said, “I praise the Lord with all my heart. I am very happy because God is my Savior. Yes, the Powerful One has done great things for me. His Name is very holy.” – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, ERV)

My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s Name! – (Luke 1:46-47 & 49, VOICE)

 

Mary both recognized and responded to the glory of God and the good gifts that He gave. This morning, as I rose long before it was necessary, I find myself in a similar space of gratitude. Though Mary’s circumstances were far different than my own, I share the very same God, and He comes closer still, because of what was done so long ago through the willingness of His faithful. I am regularly in awe of His grace and mercy, and can see how His hand has carried me through the times of trial. He is good, and my whole heart celebrates His loving kindness. May we look to the Lord in awe and praise, for His love and goodness granted all of our days.

 

Let us set our hearts, Believe Instead of Striving

In a poise of praise;

Because the Lord saves,

For all of our days.

The Lord is our help,

May spirits rejoice;

Celebrate our God,

With mind, heart and voice.

Praise for what He’s done,

And who the Lord is;

Our life, love and song,

Why all praise is His.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the precious gift of Your Son, whom You sent to us to save us. Thank You for the great things that You have done for us, in us and through us. Thank You that we can call You our Savior. Forgive us for not slowing down in awe and praise for all that You have done throughout all of our days. Teach us to take time to look around and see the work and wonder of Your hand, help and great love. Show us how to love those around us in a way that demonstrates Your faithfulness and points people to Your grace. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You and rejoice in all that You have done; for You are great and worthy of all of our praise. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. – Proverbs 11:25